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Can you tax a car without insurance?

Can you tax a car without insurance?

Emma Lunn
Written by  Emma Lunn
Saarrah Mussa
Reviewed by  Saarrah Mussa
5 min read
Updated: 10 Jan 2024

Both car tax (technically known as vehicle excise duty or VED) and car insurance are mandatory in the UK. You can get fined (or worse) if your car isn’t both taxed and insured and you drive it on public roads.

What is car tax? 

Technically, there is no such thing as car tax (or road tax). The tax drivers pay is called Vehicle Excise Duty (VED). VED rates change each year. They are announced in the budget and come into effect on 1 April. 

The amount of VED you’ll pay depends on: 

  • Your car’s CO2 emissions 

  • How much your car is worth 

Currently, some cars pay zero VED but all registered owners still need to register for VED and complete the paperwork (online) to legally drive their car. The main exception to this is if your car is declared SORN – the Statutory Off Road Notification – with the DVLA. You can’t tax a car without having car insurance in place. 

VED is set to change in 2025 and drivers of zero-emission cars will have to pay the lowest rate of VED. 

If you drive a heavily polluting car - producing more than 255g of CO2 - you will pay up to £2,605 to tax your car from April 2024. You can tax your car/pay VED on

car taxes

What is car insurance? 

If you are driving your car on UK roads you are legally required to have at least third-party car insurance in place. This is due to the continuous insurance enforcement rules (CIE) introduced in 2011 as part of the Road Safety Act. 

Comprehensive car insurance is much better than third-party cover, and not always more expensive. 

If you’re the registered keeper of the car it’s your job to make sure it’s insured. This is the case even if someone else usually drives it or your car is not regularly driven.   

If you’re caught without insurance you may receive a £300 fine and six penalty points on your license. Police and other authorities can check if a car is insured via the DVLA. 

The only exception is if you declare your car off the road with a Statutory Off-Road Notice (SORN).  

Can you tax a car without insurance? 

No, you cannot tax a car without insurance. You need to buy car insurance before you can buy tax.  

However, you won’t need your insurance policy number to tax your car - when you buy car tax the DVLA checks the Motor Insurance Database to see if your car is insured and has an MOT.  

Can I tax a car with 1 day insurance? 

Yes, you can tax a car with one-day or temporary insurance. You have to tax your car before you drive on any UK road, regardless of how long you would be driving for.

A driver might buy one-day car insurance the day they buy or collect their new car, before they have the chance to shop around for an annual car insurance policy. 

Is car insurance valid without tax? 

Your car insurance may not be valid if not properly taxed. Some insurers include the obligation to tax your car in their terms and conditions - so check your policy small print. 

If the terms state that your car needs to be taxed for the insurance to be valid, your insurer may reject any claim you make.  

This would mean that you will be personally liable for all damages and injuries should you be at fault in a car accident.  

If you are caught driving without tax you could get a criminal conviction. This will make it more difficult - and expensive - to get car insurance in the future. 

What is SORN? 

SORN stands for Statutory Off Road Notification.  

A SORN informs the government that you've taken your car off the road. For a SORN to be valid, you’ll need to keep your car somewhere other than on a public road, such as a driveway, garage, or private land. The clue is in the name - your car will need to be “off-road”. 

Do I need car tax or car insurance if my car is SORN? 

You don’t need car tax or insurance if your car is SORN. But bear in mind that without insurance, you won’t be covered if your car is stolen or destroyed by fire. 

You also can’t legally drive on a public road if your car is SORN. There is one exception to this - if you drive to a pre-arranged MOT appointment and don’t stop on the way for any reason. 

Can you leave a taxed but uninsured car on the road? 

No, you can’t leave an uninsured car on a public road, regardless of whether it is taxed or not. Continuous Insurance Enforcement came into force in 2011. This rule means all cars must be insured unless a SORN is in place. 

Can you get temporary road tax? 

You can’t buy temporary car tax in the UK. You have to tax your vehicle for a year. This can be paid for upfront in a lump sum (the cheapest option), in two six-monthly lump sums or monthly via direct debit. 

If you sell your car, you can apply to the DVLA for any remaining car tax to be refunded. This will be refunded in full calendar months only. 

It is not possible to transfer car tax to the new owner if you sell your car. The new owner will need to buy their own VED. 

Can I drive my car home if I’ve just bought it? 

It is illegal to drive any car, regardless of the distance, on a UK road, without a valid insurance policy in place. Your new car will need to be insured to drive it home from the car dealer or a private seller.  

Some dealers will arrange temporary car insurance so you can legally drive the car home - or you can buy one-day or temporary insurance yourself, before you buy an annual policy. 

If you drive your new car home without insurance and cause an accident, you’ll be personally liable for all associated costs. 

What happens if I don’t tax or insure my car? 

If your car is untaxed and/or insured, and not declared SORN, you could be fined or end up with a criminal conviction. Tax discs haven’t been issued in the UK since 2014. Police now use Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) to check if a car is taxed.  

If the police discover you haven’t taxed your car, they can issue you a fixed penalty notice (FPN) of up to £1,000. 

It’s illegal to drive a vehicle on a road or in a public place without at least third-party insurance. 

If the police catch you driving without insurance, they could: 

  • Give you a fixed penalty of £300 and six penalty points  

  • Take you to court where you could get an unlimited fine or be disqualified from driving 

  • Seize and destroy your car 

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